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Myths and Facts About Charitable Giving

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3. Gen X and Gen Y don’t care about charity.

Younger generations are often thought to not care about charitable giving. Yet a recent study by Convio, Edge Research, and Sea Change Strategies, “The Next Generation of American Giving," offers some interesting results about charitable contributions made by four different generations: Generation Y (born 1981-1991), Generation X (born 1965-1980), baby boomers (born 1946-1964) and "matures" (born 1945 or earlier).

While the estimated percentage of giving may be higher among older generations (79% of matures and 67% of baby boomers), 58% of Gen X and 56% of Gen Y do give to charities. Though their average donations are generally smaller, Gen Y and Gen X often have plans to increase their charitable contributions in the following year (31% and 24%, respectively).

The study also reports that younger generations contribute in other ways than direct charitable donations. Gen Y and Gen X are involved with charities in many different ways, including fundraising, online promotion, and volunteering.

4. My charitable donations are not large enough to make a difference.

Charities rely on your support and appreciate donations of any amount. Yet concentrating your charitable contributions can be a more effective way to give. Matthew J. Viola, senior program analyst at Charity Navigator, agrees that both large and small donations are appreciated by not-for-profit charities and recommends donors make a long-term commitment to support charities over time. Viola tells WebMD, “Charity Navigator suggests that instead of donating $10 to 10 charities, a donor should focus on a couple of charities and give each one of those a larger donation ($50 to two charities).”

No matter which charities you choose to support, small gifts from multiple donors add up, and they also provide charities with a broad base of support. This is particularly true when donors continue to give what they can afford year after year. 

5. Causes with active fundraising campaigns need my charitable donations the most.

While there is nothing wrong with supporting well-known causes, like cancer or AIDS research, many lesser-known causes may have an even greater need for charitable contributions. This is especially true when your charitable gifts support medical research, as rare medical conditions and diseases often have less funding.

McGowan often prefers to find deserving charities that support these lesser-known medical needs. “Sometimes the popular vogue does not match the highest need for funding at a given moment,” he says. “Hundreds of millions are funneled into research areas that are already well enough funded, while other critical-need areas are overlooked.”

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